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HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg exiting

July 18, 2011 | 11:26 am

Ross Greenburg, the longtime head of HBO Sports, is leaving the pay-television channel.

The move was not entirely unexpected. Over the last several months speculation has grown that there was tension between Greenburg and his bosses at HBO over the defection of boxer Manny Pacquiao to rival Showtime.

“This was a difficult decision that I have been contemplating for some time,” Greenburg said in a statement. “It has been a glorious 33 years at HBO, but it felt like the right moment for me to focus my time and energy on developing projects that are particularly interesting to me."

HBO Co-Presidents Richard Plepler and Michael Lombardo, both of whom have taken a more active role in HBO Sports as of late, issued a joint statement saying Greenburg had "helped redefine the sports programming genre and set an extraordinary standard of excellence in the industry."

No replacement for Greenburg has been named.

Greenburg had been with HBO Sports for more than 30 years and spent the last 11 as its president. He had oversight over not only the network's boxing coverage, but also its critically acclaimed documentaries and sports news programs including "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel." Greenburg has received more than 50 Emmys.

Three years ago, Greenburg faced criticism when he decide to ax the long-running roundtable program “Inside the NFL” (the show's host, Bob Costas, called the move “boneheaded”); Showtime picked the program up.

Greenburg is the third high-profile sports executive to step down in the last few months. In late spring, Dick Ebersol and Ken Schanzer, the top executives at NBC Sports, both resigned in the wake of Comcast Corp.'s takeover of NBCUniversal.


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-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Sports historian Berg Sugar, left, and Ross Greenburg. Credit: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBO.